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Social selling on LinkedIn: how to get it right

October 27, 2021

The most successful businesses of the future…

Will be the ones that support and empower their staff.

To build personal brands on social media.

No, that’s not some fabulous blog intro we came up with!

It’s something Daniel Disney actually said.

And more than something he said, it’s something he lives and breathes!

So, we got Daniel onto our Revenue Champions podcast to tell us all about how to get social selling right.

Scroll 👇 through the menu to see what your team needs to do to up their social selling game.

Why social selling goes wrong | Gaps for quick wins | Profile essentials | Where to start | Getting buy-in from the top | Trends to look out for | Benefits of social selling for reps | Cognism’s hacks, tips, & tricks


Why social selling goes wrong 👎

Social selling is fantastic for increasing your results, pipeline, revenue, and conversions.

Sounds great, right?

It really is!

But it’s something that reps don’t always get right.

So, why does it go wrong?

Daniel breaks it down for us:

1 - Reps not hitting the mark with their messaging

The biggest problem with how salespeople use LinkedIn is in how they send messages.

“So many people are just getting inundated with spammy, sales pitch, terribly written LinkedIn messages coming through. Reps should send conversation-starting messages that actually get replies and then that actually convert into opportunities.”

To do this, reps should:

  • Personalise their outreach.
  • Be short and concise.
  • Create a sense of intrigue.

2 - KPI pressure

Those spammy LinkedIn messages can often be a result of KPI pressure from sales leaders.

A lot of managers prize the quantity over quality metric for their B2B sales team.

That doesn’t just impact LinkedIn messaging, it impacts emails and cold calling too.

“As a sales leader, if you’re focusing on just hitting a number, then your reps are also going to be focused on just hitting a number, not a specific result or a conversion.”

“The managers who focus more on the conversations, the opportunities, the pipelines, and the converted deals, are the ones who see the results.”

Why?

Because it becomes less about how many messages you sent out and more about how many conversations you’ve had.

3 - A lack of training

If you as a sales manager say:

“Right, let’s start using LinkedIn to sell, off you go!”

And expect your reps to know what to do…

You’re making a big mistake.

“No one picks up a phone and makes their first cold call knowing what to say. It’s the same with LinkedIn - no one logs in and suddenly knows how to craft good messages or create good LinkedIn content. Everyone needs training - we all need training on the tools that we utilise.”

It comes down to not providing the right training AND putting pressure on a number…

Which then leads to spammy sales messages.

So, how can you ensure your team is putting out good and engaging messages and content on LinkedIn?

You keep following Daniel’s advice, of course! 👇

Gaps for quick wins 🏆

“The majority of salespeople that I see are using between 30-40% of LinkedIn’s capabilities…and that’s at a push!”

You’ve got to think about the best way to train up your team.

How do you do that?

Simple - find out what’s missing!

You’ll want to fill these gaps to get your reps making the most of their social selling.

  • Having a fully optimised LinkedIn profile.
  • Working on their engagement strategy.
  • Grow their audience with the right people through connections.
  • Focus on the content they’re sharing - this goes beyond sharing the company blog.
  • Creating a personal brand - this should be part of your greater B2B marketing strategy.

“The evidence is out there. What you’ll see on LinkedIn now is the AEs, the SDRs, and the BDRs, sharing good content - sharing their stories. They’re creating great content, building their audience, and generating tons of inquiries; and generating so much exposure for the companies they work for.”

But before your reps rush off and start firing off posts, make sure that they’ve included the 👇

Profile essentials 👩‍💻

Getting an uptake in engagement isn’t dumb luck!

Reps actually have to put some work into it.

Daniel says they’ve got to start with this:

A customer-focused profile

Yes, LinkedIn looks like a CV.

It’s designed like a CV.

But, it’s not about you when social selling.

You’re trying to get a customer.

“You’ve got to make it more about them and less about you. Talk about who you help, how you help them, what you can help the new customer achieve, and include someone you’ve helped that they’ll recognise.”

“You’ve got to really focus it on what it is that you can do for them - that’s the whole purpose of a sales conversation.”

Then, go through the components that make your profile customer-centric 👇

The top components of a customer-centric LinkedIn profile

1 - Profile photo

A good profile pic will be a hi-res image where your face takes up 60% of the frame. You should be the only person in the picture and wearing what you’d typically wear to work.

2 - Cover photo

Avoid distracting backgrounds and ensure your cover photo is 1584 x 396 pixels. Workspaces or a picture that represents your company are great go-to’s for your cover photo.

3 - Summary

This should include 3-5 sentences that describe:

  • Your years of experience in your industry.
  • Your areas of expertise.
  • Your skills.
  • What you’re most known for professionally - what have been your biggest career wins?

These are the three juiciest areas that provide the most value.

“You’ve got to have a good photo, design a good background, and then really optimise your summary to really take the people viewing your profile on a journey to essentially qualify them in or out.”

“You want people that aren’t going to buy from you to move on, and you want your ICPs to stay - to want to have a conversation, to want to connect with you, and ideally to message you to ask for more information.”

Right, now you’ve got that down and it’s time to start posting.

How do you get into it?

Where to start ▶️

There are two key factors to remember when you’re starting your LinkedIn social selling journey:

1 - Take it slow

You don’t have to dive in and post a hundred times a day!

Or feel pressured to record videos or write lengthy posts.

Just do what you’re comfortable with.

That could be sharing another post but adding your thoughts to it.

Or reviewing a book.

Start with simpler forms of content that are a lot less complicated than recording an entire video or sharing a personal story.

It’s all about getting comfortable in your own voice, writing your own thoughts and opinions, and sharing those with your audience. Don’t look at the mountain and get intimidated - start off nice and slow and take each step as it comes.”

At the same time, you should focus your attention on...

2 - Consuming more

This is an incredibly simple yet extremely beneficial thing to do.

Focus on other people in your industry who leverage LinkedIn well and consume their content.

You’ll be able to:

  • Learn how to create good content.
  • See what’s driving the best engagement.
  • Find inspiration for your own posts.
  • Discover your voice through seeing other examples.

Daniel added:

“You’ll want to surround yourself with the right people, take it nice and steady, and consume more on a regular basis.”

There can, however, be a roadblock to your potential LinkedIn fame!

And that’s 👇

Getting buy-in from the top 🤝

You’d think that in 2021 companies would be all aboard the social media train.

But, there are still companies out there that aren’t comfortable with employees posting about themselves or the business online.

They worry that the content could potentially tarnish the company name, amongst other things.

So, how do you ensure you have that buy-in from the top?

Outbound sales managers need to promote the idea of social selling and building personal brands to the CEO.

“In reality, I’ve seen sales managers stop their reps from using the phone because of what they’re saying on the call. But, just because one rep lied on a call or said the wrong thing doesn’t mean that you stop everyone from using the phones.”

“What you do instead is train, manage, and support your reps to get it right. It’s exactly the same with LinkedIn.”

You can’t let the fear of things going wrong hold you back.

Instead, provide the right training.

Ensure you have the correct support barriers in place so that your reps know the right things to do and what areas to avoid talking about.

If your reps do make a mistake, act quickly and delete the post.

It’s easy to go back and try again.

Further to that, open your CEO’s eyes to the audiences that are engaged on LinkedIn, and how successful it can be.

The best way to do this?

Show them Daniel’s top two examples of personal branding and companies leveraging social selling:

For personal branding success, shoot Sarah Brazier’s profile over to your boss.

And for company success, you’ll want them to check out Gong who have mastered this.

Remember, buy-in comes from showing them what your brand could potentially become and how this is possible through your reps building personal brands.

Start with “the why" - the reasons you should be leveraging social selling.

And then go into “the how” - providing training, support, and so on.

Once they’re on board, here’s what your reps should be paying attention to 👇

Trends to look out for 🕵️‍♀️

  1. Audio and video messages.
  2. Written messages.
  3. Personal brands.

Daniel expands on this:

“It’s a pretty equal split between audio, video, and written messages in terms of ROI because all of these mediums reach different audiences. Some people might love audio and hate video, or love written and hate video. So, it’s up to you to provide options that reach the wider audience that’s out there.”

“It’ll certainly continue in this way - one form of outreach is not going to dominate the other. It will always be an equal split in terms of preferences and sales teams must master each of these forms of outreach.”

“This is where you need to provide training and support for your team. You’ve got to get your reps comfortable with recording an audio or video message. Remember, they were never taught this in traditional sales training.”

Now you know what to do, how to do it, and what to talk about.

But why should your team be leveraging social selling as part of your sales strategy?

The benefits of social selling for reps 💕

As Daniel said:

“LinkedIn’s a great prospecting tool, but it’s also an amazing account management and relationship building tool. Gone are the days of picking up the phone every three to six months to check on customers and ask them if they want to buy anything else.”

“On LinkedIn, you’re connected to your clients and putting out valuable content every single day and interacting with their content on a regular basis. So, you’re having these behind the scenes conversations and keeping each other informed along the journey, so when you do have conversations, it’s not like it’s been three or six months. Rather, you’re already saying how was the holiday last month, and so on.”

Paying attention to your customers on LinkedIn is extremely beneficial to your reps, because this:

  • Builds relationships.
  • Brings your research to you.
  • Gives you insight into buying signals.
  • Allows your reps to engage at the right time.

Get on top of your social selling, and your reps are sure to be booking more quality meetings in no time!

And, if you want even more advice… be sure to check out 👇

Cognism’s sales hacks, tips, & tricks 🚀

Daniel gave so many fantastic tips on social selling that we couldn’t fit them all into this blog!

You’ll want to listen to the full episode of his Revenue Champions interview to learn more about personal brands and how to get your reps building theirs.

Press ▶️ to hear it!